Pilatus Makes Breakthrough in European SEIFR

 - October 11, 2007, 6:41 AM

At least one manufacturer of turbine singles believes it has waited long enough for Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) to adopt proposed rules (NPA-29) setting out the requirements for JAA-member states to approve commercial operations in singles in IFR conditions (SEIFR). In fact, Switzerland-based Pilatus Aircraft decided to take the matter into its own hands.

By working with PC-12 operator Lions Air and the Swiss aviation authority (FOCA), Pilatus expects to receive SEIFR authority by FOCA before the end of the month. Pilatus PC-12 engineering manager Dominik Waser described how the airframer and FOCA used NPA-29 as the basis for obtaining this approval. The process involved Pilatus and Lions Air demonstrating–through actual flight tests and documentation–that PC-12 performance, maintenance and training meet NPA-29 requirements.

For example, Pilatus had to show that the big turboprop single has acceptable maneuvering capability to allow for a safe landing if the airplane’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 fails below 1,000 feet agl. At higher altitudes, Pilatus had to demonstrate restarts after engine failure.

The company also had to show that a catastrophic engine failure would not take out
critical instrumentation and avionics. Pilot workload, emergency procedures, autopilot use, engine trend monitoring and engine reliability history were also part of NPA-29 stipulations that had to be fulfilled by Pilatus and Lions Air. Once FOCA certification is complete, Waser said, it will initially apply to two of Lion Air’s nine PC-12 for flights within Switzerland.

The latest word from the JAA is that it will sign off on SEIFR by year-end. Aware that the JAA said the same thing last year at this time, without any such approval before the end of 2002, Waser said Pilatus will continue its efforts on a country-by-country level. Pilatus believes that once Switzerland adopts the SEIFR rule, follow-on approval by other European countries will go faster and smoother. Asked which country might be next, Waser said, “Germany has shown strong interest.”

SEIFR commercial operations (turbine and recip) have been authorized by the FAA under FAR 135.163 since May 4, 1998. Stringent operating, training, experience and aircraft equipment requirements apply.